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Still Dead Set on Deadpool…

Looks like Robert Downey Jnr. isn’t Hollywood’s only two-franchise man at the moment – apparently Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is still on the cards, at least according to the character’s creator. This is interesting not just because Reynolds will be the leading man in two major superhero productions (and possibly franchises) in the coming years, but also because he will be the first leading man to work with both DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment at the same time. Sure, he was in Blade III, but we don’t count that. It never happened. And I doubt he’d disagree with us on that.

Apparently Green Lantern's secret identity is Deadpool...

Apparently Green Lantern's secret identity is Deadpool...

The possibility of a Deadpool spinoff from Wolverine is an interesting one – an infinitely more interesting one than the X-Men: First Class project which is reportedly entering production next year. It doesn’t have quite the appeal of X-Men Origins: Magneto, because there’s the potential for the movie to go so badly wrong, but there is potential there.

For those who are unfamiliar with Deadpool beyond his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and don’t get what all the fuss was about when they shoved samurai swords up his arms, Deadpool is (potentially) one of the more fascinating characters in the comic book medium, because of his metafictional nature. When I wrote a piece discussing what makes the Joker such a compelling adversary for Batman, I mentioned that there’s the more-than-possible explanation that the Joker is aware he is a comic book villain and knows all the clichés that flow from that. Deadpool actually realises that he is a comic book character. There’s no ambiguity. He knows he’s not real and will frequently turn to address the audience. That’s effectively his superpower (he’s also very good at killing things). Wolverine has claws and Deadpool realises he doesn’t actually exist.

It’s by no means an original concept and he isn’t exactly a Flann O’Brien character, but it is an interesting idea within the context of the comics. According to the tweet stream yesterday, this would be one of the components that the creators and writers would like to keep on-board when developing the feature film (and ‘loads of killing’, apparently). So we’ll have a movie where the character knows he’s in a movie. Well, hopefully, unless the studio wants another fan backlash (though they’ll probably turn a tidy profit anyway). The Reynolds, the increasingly bankable star, wants this too is perhaps more of a guarantee than all that the writers and creators would say – he has leverage on this.

Still, I have heavily qualified my anticipation of the above potential because Hollywood hasn’t quite embraced the more ‘out there’ concepts that readers can so easily suspend their disbelief about in comic books. Watchmen wasn’t greeted with open arms by the mainstream, despite being one of the most important graphic novels. You can say a lot about the quality of the adaptation, but a lot of people were more concerned with the giant blue glowing penis… I mean man. Similarly, more wacky material – Mark Millar’s Wanted, for example – has been massively toned down in order to be sold to the mainstream. The Dark Knight did experiment with the format of a superhero film, and the format of a blockbuster as a whole, but it was a relatively grounded concept that would have worked with or without the Batman comic books.

Given that Fox executives meddled so heavily with Gavin Hood on Wolverine (apparently even repainting sets over weekend breaks) despite the straightforward-ness of the story, and with the shadow of the ‘failure’ of Watchmen hanging over the genre, it’s hard to believe that even Reynolds can get a fourth-wall-breaking assassin to the silver screen intact.

But we live in hope.

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